Alice Is THREE.

Dear Alice,

Happy Birthday!!

Your big day is finally here, and I know you’re going to be thrilled!

You know what I love about you?

Well…everything.

And also?

That you love to play mommy.

You take very good care of your pretend babies, and you’re always so, so excited to hold any real baby who crosses your path.

You will constantly say, “I can hold them.  I’m a BIG GIRL and will be careful.”  And then you immediately sit down and hold your arms out.   And you *are* always very careful.

You love to “cook.”  You have made many, many bowls of oats and water and every spice we have on the counter — all while “reading” your “recipe.”

You love your gymnastics class!  You love your music class!

You practice all your gymnastics moves — you love the balance beam and bars.

You know the words to all of your music class songs, and all the movements.

And do you know what you really love about those two classes?

That I’m there with you.

You love to wear pajamas.  I used to try to get you to change into clothes to go out, but now I don’t.  You have your own sense of style and you totally know what you want to look like before we go somewhere.

Sometimes that means you’re wearing pajamas, a superhero cape, a pilot’s hat, while carrying a purple Easter purse — and I love that.

Everyone loves that, actually.  You get many compliments. ;)

You love to make crafts, and want to paint or glue something everyday.

You love to be outside — to swing and go down the slide.

You love to climb trees!  If ever I lose sight of you in the backyard, I know I just have to look up — you will be in a tree.

You LOVE your brother.  You guys play so well together, and it’s awesome.

He is your very best friend.

You love chocolate.  And sweet tea.  And cupcakes.

You love to play games.

You love for Mommy to chase you.  And to ride on Daddy’s back pretending he’s a horsey.

You love to share your snacks with Huckles.

You love to dance.

You love, love your family.  You love making friends.

You are just…an absolute joy to us all.

You are growing up to be such a smart, funny, kind and loving girl and I just cannot wait to see you as a 3-year-old.

Much LOVE to you, my sweet, wonderful girl!

I hope you have the BEST DAY EVER!

LOVE,
Mommy

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Alice’s Best 2-Year-Old Quotes.

Alice as a 2-year-old has been really funny.

She is so smart.  And she repeats things so well.

And those things add up to being pretty hysterical sometimes.

Here are my top 6  favorite quotes from Alice this past year…

( I was going to choose five, but just couldn’t.  There should be more Top 6 lists anyway!)

1. March 5:
Me: “I told you to stop and you didn’t.”
Alice: “But I paused!”

2. March 4:
Me: “Look at that big airplane up there!  Where do you think they’re going?”
Alice: “Umm…probably Dairy Queen.”

3. February 16:
Alice: “Mom? Your hair looks like seaweed.”

4. January 16:
Tom: “Why did you put stickers on this?”
Alice (matter-of-fact): “Because I wanted it to look great.”

5. December 2:
Me: “You need to take a bath.”
Alice: “Whatever, Kate!”

6. September 17:
Alice: “This is my baby. Her name is Mothball.”

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LOVE this sweet, funny girl!!

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Alice’s Room.

Alice’s birthday is coming up, so it’s time to take a look at what her current 2-year-old bedroom looks like!

(Because I will forget. I can’t remember anything these days!  Tomorrow, I may forget I wrote this blog.)

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What I see…

The heart bedspread is one that she picked out and loves.

Beside her bed a big pile of books, her huge Jake doll and all of her dress-up clothes.  The dress-up clothes usually have a top on it so you can’t see them, but she wore a Snow White dress first thing this morning.

The little mermaid and Minnie Mouse dolls on the floor are there because she and I were playing a game in her bed this morning where her doll (Minnie) would jump over the railing into a “pool with sharks!” and my doll (mermaid) would have to save her.  We took turns on who needed to be rescued.  It was fun.

There are also craft stickers on the floor because we made some princess crowns this morning!

We were running errands ALL DAY, so I’m glad that we got some one-on-one time before we took Tom to school.

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Alice’s art desk is a favorite thing of hers.  She uses it every day.

That little lantern on the desk is something she insisted she needed from the Dollar Tree.  She got one for Tom, too.

Her stroller with three of her favorite babies in it.  She actually has a couple strollers, but that one is by far her favorite.  It’s supposed to be a shopping cart?  But she’s always said and used it as a stroller.

That little calculator on the floor is one of those unexplained things she randomly loves and sometimes carries around.

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These bins are fairly new to her room.

She has another pile of books on it!

On the bottom is a box of tiny little books — and she loves it.  She loves the books, and the carrying case.  And that barn right next to it?  It’s a game.  She doesn’t like the game as much as she loves the barn!

She plays with that Elsa doll occasionally, but that’s one of those things I kind of think she wouldn’t miss. ;)

But she does love that pink flashlight on there.  She uses it a lot.

And that’s little Alice’s room!

I probably should’ve taken a picture of her pajama drawer, because that is BY FAR her most favorite thing!!  She would wear 4 pair of pajamas a day if she could (and sometimes does).

Now that she has a “big girl bed” she likes to play in “her room” a lot.  It’s the first place she takes visitors to our house.  And I’m thrilled she loves it!

I love it, too.

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#loveandalice

Alice will be THREE on Friday.

Can you believe that?!

It’s like these kids just keep on GROWING UP!

Here’s how I really feel about Alice being three years old, though:  I cannot believe she’s not three already.

I mean, I cannot believe my little baby who I just had yesterday is three.

But I also cannot believe that this smart, adventurous, awesome girl is still only two.

She’s just — so big!

And so little.

Don’t you just love it when I make all sorts of sense?!

Me too.

This week leading up to Alice’s BIG 3 — I’ll be focusing on all things Alice!

And up first:  My five favorite Alice Instagrams from this year!

Y’all – this was hard.

You see, Alice is with me all day every day — so I’ve got a lot of pictures of her because of that.

Also?  She sometimes actually SITS STILL AND LETS ME TAKE A PICTURE.

(Unlike some active little boys I know….NOT NAMING NAMES!)

So to choose just five photos of her — so, so, so hard.

(So…hope you appreciate my real struggle!)

1. Easter Egg hunt happiness.  The day before Easter, we celebrated with a very rainy Easter egg hunt at my parent’s farm.  It was a soggy, wet mess and we had the best time.  But Alice?  Well…she had the best BEST time.

Easter egg hunt happiness! Happy Easter, friends! #loveandalice

A photo posted by Kate Gelsthorpe (@loveandkate) on

 

 

2. Spring Princess.  One of her best friends, Ms. Anna, made her a flower crown.  And it was perfect for Alice, because I don’t know anyone who loves the outdoors more than her.

Spring princess. #loveandalice

A photo posted by Kate Gelsthorpe (@loveandkate) on

 

 

3. Little Miss Sparkler.  Giving my 2-year-old fire is not something I am good at.  She made it easier by acting like she totally understood it was dangerous and would be respectful of the danger.  That smile is part love of the sparkler, part happy to be trusted with it.

Little Miss Sparkler. #loveandalice

A photo posted by Kate Gelsthorpe (@loveandkate) on

 

4. Don’t go in the road. She’s smart. And when I say, “Don’t go in the road, Alice,” — she (technically) doesn’t. I’m gonna have to be careful with this one!

Do not go in the road, Alice. "I'm not." #loveandalice #loveandfall #trouble

A photo posted by Kate Gelsthorpe (@loveandkate) on

 

5. Baby Fashionista. She loves to wear pajamas. All day. She loves to wear her nightgowns. All day. Sometimes she’ll put a tutu over them. Or under them. She likes hats and jackets and shoes. She changes clothes at least four times a day, every day. If a drop of water gets on an outfit, that is the excuse she needs to change. She has very clear ideas of her look, and I very rarely try to sway her “vision.” What I’m saying is — she’s awesome. I feel like this picture totally captures all of that!

 

BONUS. Alice and Mama. I just love this.

 

 

 

 

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Georgia State Parks: F. D. Roosevelt State Park.

Our February state park visit was to F. D. Roosevelt State Park.

Confession: I have been to this state park approximately 127 times in my life.

This is definitely the state park I feel most “at home” about.

I used to camp here with my family growing up.  I’ve camped here with friends.  Kevin and I have camped here pre-kids.  I stayed in the cabins here with toddler Tom when I was pregnant with Alice.  And Tom and Alice have been here a couple times with us.

What I’m saying is:  I love this place.

It is beautiful.  It is comfortable.  It is 5 minutes away from Callaway Gardens. And the town of Pine Mountain, Ga. is super cute.  LOVE.

So when my parents mentioned that they’d rented a cabin for the last weekend in February, we jumped at the chance to join them.

Callaway has a thing where park admission is free during January and February weekdays, so we joined my parents on a Friday to take advantage of that.

We got to my parents’ cabin on Friday morning, and Alice and I immediately set out on a hike with my mom.

A hike that included: crossing a creek via fallen tree…with Alice, and a near-death experience climbing up a muddy cliff…with Alice. (These adventures are not he fault of the state park, by the way.  They are the fault of me thinking we can do anything we want!  And we can…it’s just scary. Ha!)

After the hike, we headed to Dowdell’s Knob (my fav part of the park) for a picnic lunch (just like FDR used to do).

Y’all, it’s just beautiful there.  And we were there on an especially beautiful day.  And it is so, so, so QUIET.  It’s very neat.

After lunch we headed to Callaway to visit the butterfly house and the Sibley Center gardens.  You’ve heard me talk of these before — but these are our two favorites for the kids.  So much fun!

We stayed until Callaway’s closing, and then went back to the cabin for dinner, and watching a movie from the 50s, and falling asleep as soon as our heads hit the pillow.

During this trip you could either find Tom:

1. Setting up his dinosaurs all over the outside of the cabin
2. Throwing leaves on the fire.
3. Running.

During this trip you could either find Alice:

1. Collecting acorns and magnolia cones.
2. Climbing rocks without fear.
3. Running.

The kids had the best time.  The greatest day.  So much fun with their grandparents.  So much fun family time.   It was awesome.

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January park here: Sweetwater Creek State Park

I’m documenting our adventures (as always) on Instagram.  Follow me there at loveandkate.  Tag: #12parksin2015

Posted in Baby Girl, Family, Georgia State Parks, Kevin, Motherhood, Tom | 3 Comments

Tom’s 5th Birthday: Dinosaur Party.

We celebrated Tom’s 5th Birthday with a party that was all about DINOSAURS!

Tom has been seriously obsessed with dinos lately.  He knows tons about them.  He loves reading dinosaur books, he loves watching dinosaur shows, he LOVES watching Jurassic Park. (He’s not scared of that movie AT ALL.  Last night he said, “Close your eyes, Mom! The part where the man’s arm comes off is coming up.”  Gross.)

Anyway, his party was on a beautiful Sunday afternoon.  And I mean — beautiful.

It was like…almost 70 degrees that day.  AMAZING.

And we had Tom’s party at our pool’s clubhouse which is on a lake.  It was really great.

We only invited a couple friends this time, and all of our family was there.  Tom had the best day EVER.  I really think it was everything he wanted.

Tom helped me with a lot of this party set up:  He put the little dinosaurs on the cupcakes.  He helped me make the party hats (by adding “spikes” to them).  It was his idea to put the inflatable dinosaurs in the bouncy house.  It was so much fun planning with him – so fun.

It was a wonderful celebration, and we all had a great time, especially my little dinosaur-loving boy.

Biggest hits: The paper mache dinosaur egg “gift bags” and THE BOUNCY HOUSE (best purchase ever — we use it all the time).

Biggest miss: I’d made “dinosaur feet” to put over their shoes to dance in — FAIL!  They wouldn’t stay put and pretty much frustrated every party goer!  I think they even made someone cry.  Way to go, Mom!  (At least the dance song was short!) Ha!

P.S.: Almost everything you see is from the Dollar Tree.  The dinosaurs, dinosaur hats, tablecloths, the display board, party hats (we added the spikes) are all from there. I have crazy love for that store.

I loved this party!  And my sister said it was her favorite.  Score!  I was really laid back and relaxed about this one, which I feel like is the norm now.  Because, you know, it’s a kid’s birthday party!  I loved, loved how happy Tom was.  The best.

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Posted in Baby Girl, Crafts, Family, Friends, Motherhood, Parties, Tom | 1 Comment

Georgia State Parks: Sweetwater Creek.

This year, our family decided we were going to visit a different Georgia State Park every month this year.

And the excitement I’ve felt for doing this is crazy!

I’ve been addicted to researching all the state parks to figure out which ones we should visit this year while our children are just-now-5 and almost-3.

And the best thing has happened!  I’m not only getting excited for all of our family adventures at the state parks this year, but I’ve been discovering all sorts of other outdoor places, too!

So much to see and do!  So many choices!  I’m thrilled.

So our first state park to visit in 2015 was Sweetwater Creek State Park which was a mere 20 minutes from our house!

I’m embarrassed to admit we had never been there before.

What?!

We visited on a beautiful January day — and it was MLK Day — so it was pretty crowded parking-wise.  But we got there around 11:30, and found a spot in a back lot pretty quickly, so it was only a short walk to the visitor center.

The visitor center was amazing here, by the way.  They had a lot of things for the kids to look at — lots of animals, lots of Civil War-era things, and lots of information on the textile mill ruins that were on the trail.

We walked out of the visitor center, and Alice immediately did this:

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Rock star!

The hike to the textile mill ruins (it was burned during the Civil War) was perfect for us — lots of things to see and do along the way — bridges, the river, rocks to climb, different small trails to explore — it was awesome.  We all really, really LOVED it!

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When we made it to the mill ruins, the kids were just thrilled.  They loved being on the rocks and exploring all around.  We spent a lot of time here, and it was great.

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Sweetwater Creek is a popular park, and I can see why.  The views are amazing, and there was so much to explore.  Even though we were there on a busy day, it didn’t feel crowded, and the kids loved making new friends throughout the day.  (No really, Tom tried to invite himself to one family’s picnic. Ha!)

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It was a wonderful, wonderful day — and we cannot wait to go back!

This visit made me so excited about the future state park visits this year.   I’m so excited to see more!

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I’m documenting our adventures (as always) on Instagram.  Follow me there at loveandkate.  Tag: #12parksin2015

 

Posted in Baby Girl, Family, Georgia State Parks, Kevin, Tom | Tagged , , , | 1 Comment